Everything will be made in Japan in the near future

A-net Inc.’s Ne-net started STAR Hunt Caravan to shine a spotlight on Japanese production areas from autumn/winter 2018-2019. It creates and sells products that express the characteristics of each season such as through thread, material, and manufacturing. Textiles play the leading role. It offers “exciting manufacturing” by creating pop-up shops in department stores and in portions of stores.

Ne-net is now in its 14th year. When it debuted, it featured 100% domestic production. Because the brand grew larger over 10 years and set up over 40 locations, it temporarily shifted most of its production to China. This meant a shift to mass production, and prices fell.

Designer Kazuaki Takashima says, “Items created through great effort went on sale, and the next season began. This cycle quickened as the brand grew larger, and we began to strongly question whether that was OK. Thinking about continuing for 10 or 20 years from now, we wanted to temporarily come to a stop, decrease the scale of our manufacturing, and start again placing Japanese production areas as the focus.”

The production ratio is currently 50-50 for Japan and China. It is planned to return to entirely domestic production like at the time of the debut. Takashima explains, “Unlike before, if we think about our method, there is not such a big difference between wages in China and Japan. Because people who understand quality deliver good products, we want to have manufacturing where we can see it.” Resuming manufacturing at Japanese production areas led to the current project.

The first location in the spotlight is Bishu in Aichi Prefecture, Japan’s top wool production area. Collaboration was undertaken with a weaver that excels in fancy tweed to create a wrap skirt.

Rather than newly creating materials, the weaver tried test-weaving various materials, and about 20 varieties were selected such as a material created by weaving together fancy yarn and ribbon tape. Among the materials was a unique test-woven material that was created by Ne-net in the past. The wrap skirt was created with a simple design to bring out the full appeal of the material, and can also be used as a large stole.

The skirt is being featured this term in Nagoya and Ikebukuro. At an event held at JR Nagoya Takashimaya, textile-loving women and local people gathered excitedly as they were attracted to the store. Many people were of the opinion that “such clothes have become rare,” and said that there many people who craved shopping for the fashion on hand at Takashimaya.

The second location in the spotlight is Nishiwaki, which excels as a production area for sakizome yarn-dyed cotton shirts. Shirts and boxer shorts are being created that combine various patterns of broadcloth and roan. They are planned to be sold from March-May 2019. The stores will also convey the charms of the production area.

The plans for after this are also proceeding. For the collaboration for autumn/winter 2019-2020, the third production area will be a denim production area in Okayama Prefecture that suffered damage during the heavy rain disaster in western Japan in 2018. Currently a plan is being considered to resurrect fabrics soaked in mud as products. The fourth collaboration will be with a paulownia production area in Tochigi Prefecture for spring/summer 2020.

Takashima explains, “A-net survived because it is a manufacturing company. But currently, even the staff does not know Japan’s good materials. I have experience searching for good materials with Issey Miyake. Going forward, I want to visit production areas with young people and learn again about them. I want to convey to young people the joy of creating things starting with choosing the threads.”

Shirt made with sakizome yarn-dyed cotton in Nishiwaki. 17,000 yen.